I am greatly in favor of mass transit, trains, commute trip reduction, walking, biking and working near home. My concern about the new Sounder train to Lakewood is that it just costs way too much and is another example of the lunacy of well-intentioned government decisions.
Sounder to Lakewood is by far the most expensive local transportation project I have examined. The capital cost per anticipated daily user is $325,000 ($325 million divided by 1,000 passengers per day). Our Link light rail was very expensive at $42,500 per daily user ($85 million divided by 2,000 passengers per day), but at least it was comparable to other expensive alternatives.
Free parking garages cost us about $25,000 to $40,000 per daily user. Expansion of our freeways cost us about $35,000 per anticipated user. Both the cross-base highway, the expansion of state Route 167, and I suspect state Route 16 are examples of the high cost of freeway expansion.
So, what to do? Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is used all over South America and is the next new thing in the U.S. Of course, living close to work is the best alternative as it reduces our need for expensive projects and improves our health if we walk or bike. Living close to work also improves air quality and reduces our use of imported oil.
We should continue improving our sidewalks, building bike lanes and trails, and encouraging people to use nonmotorized transportation.